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Tuesday, October 22, 2013
AF Road Bond: The Basics

I'll be chiming in almost daily between now and Election Day, relatively briefly, on the proposed bond issue for road repair -- starting today.

This is the first in a series of eleven short posts on the proposed $20 million road bond in American Fork. I'll post one per day on most days between now and Election Day, which is Tuesday, November 5. By short I mean short, about 500 words, not counting this introductory chatter. If that doesn't seem short to you, you haven't read my last three, sprawling posts. They were long for a reason, but I'm trying to get back in the universe's good graces through brevity. (Brevity is the soul of karma?)

I'll try to be informative and give due credence to reasonable arguments against the measure, but you should know from the beginning that I favor the bond issue. I think it is a wise use of debt and well timed, and I find most of the organized opposition's arguments to be poorly reasoned, ignorant of history, and a tad less factual than I like in my politics -- of which more later. Today, the basics.

Here's what's going on: American Fork City proposes to borrow $20 million by issuing general obligation (GO) bonds, which have to be repaid from the City's general fund, that is, from tax revenues, over a period of 20 years. This requires the voters' approval; the question will be on the ballot on November 5 in American Fork. A simple majority is required.

The impact on property taxes will be approximately $80 per year on the average residence (valued at $191,000), and $146 on a business of equal value. The City's total bond debt will increase from about $56 million to about $76 million, which is less than one-third of the City's statutory debt limit. Most of the existing debt is from the pressurized irrigation bond.

If the voters approve the bond issue, the City will pay approximately $8.6 million in interest and fees over 20 years. This may vary somewhat, based on the interest rate at which the bonds are issued.

American Fork City maintains about 115 miles of roads. This does not include roads maintained by the state or county, such as I-15, State Street, and North County Boulevard. The bond issue will fund reconstruction or major repairs of 15.4 miles of roads. For perspective, 80% of the city's roads are in poor condition, beyond the help of minor maintenance. This bond issue will not fix them all, but it's a good start, and the City's plan is to improve every street within 15 years.

I'll say more about the plan later, too, but the next post or two will discuss how we got into this mess. The history is important; it could help us avoid mistaking more of the disease for the cure. Meanwhile, if you haven't already attended one of the informational meetings the City is holding about all this, please consider doing so. Two of the four haven't happened yet:

  • Thursday, October 24, 7:00 pm, at Greenwood Elementary, 50 East 200 South
  • Tuesday, October 29, 7:00 pm, at Barratt Elementary, 168 North 900 East

They'll show an informative presentation, offer you several informative handouts, and then turn you loose to ask questions of the mayor, members of the council, various senior City staffers with relevant expertise, and others. Quite apart from the bond issue, it's an excellent crash course in road maintenance and road repair; they're doing a nice job making it accessible to voters at large.

As you approach the front door, you'll probably be offered a flier by an opponent of the bond issue. I suggest you consider their arguments carefully, but don't be swayed until you've heard both sides and have accumulated a lot of information. Then vote how you think best on November 5.

I'll offer some other links in future posts, but for now, here is where you'll find a map and a list of proposed street improvements to be funded by the proposed bond issue. Your street may not be on the list -- mine isn't -- but several streets I drive more than my own are.

As always, questions and comments are welcome.

Next in this series: AF Road Bond: Genesis

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